Pushmo – 3DS eShop

8 Overall Score

Unique puzzle mechanics that just work | Bright, colourful 3D | Perfect for 5 minute or longer sessions | Tonnes of content

Not enough puzzling bits | Tutorial is ridiculous | Repetitive Music | No online

Pushmo/Pullblox is part of a fantastic wave of new 3DS eShop titles.  There were slim pickings when the eShop opened, but thanks to games like VVVVVV, Go! Go! Kokopolo, Mutant Mudds and Pushmo, we’re finally starting to see a great selection of original download titles for a Nintendo console, and it’s been awhile since I was confident in saying that.

Pushmo is a puzzle game, and like all great puzzle games it eases you into concepts before ramping up the difficulty and throwing in a few curveballs, but never straying from the simple-yet-complex rules that start it all off.  In this instance, your goal is to push and pull blocks so you can jump your way to the top of a tower, to save a trapped child.  There are a grand total of 3 different depth levels you can pull them out to (aside from the 2D all-the-way-in level) and with that you have the basics of the game.  Later levels throw in a switch you can jump on to push out a single colour all the way and ladders that teleport you from one uncovered manhole to another, but the basic idea and goal is the same, and it’s a unique and interesting one.

That’s quite rare to say these days, as totally unique puzzle games are simply not a genre that is well represented, it doesn’t have the following to make a $40 price reasonable, which is why Pushmo is only $6.99, and a downloadable title.  That’s not to say that it’s short on content though, the 250 levels would beg to differ. It is a whole lot of content, and it really feels like it.  For every 5-minute play session where you knock off 7 puzzles, you’ll have another one where you’re stuck pushing the same few blocks in and out, because your brain has decided that it should be done this way, when it’s actually done that way.  Thankfully in the later levels you can skip them if you’re stuck, and there’s a handy-dandy reset button on every level that lets you reset the entire puzzle into the 2D frame and start from scratch. Along with that, there’s a nice time rewinder for when you missed a jump or pushed something in you now can’t pull out.

At the start, however, you are introduced to your pudgy self, Mallo.  You get instruction from a wizened puzzle-solver named Papa Blox, and then you complete a puzzle.  Then more instruction, and more, and more.  I understand the need to have a comprehensive tutorial in such a unique game, but it just goes on and on and on and on.  It is not a complex game, and if you’re older than 3 you’ll instantly get what you’re supposed to do and will set about doing it, just as soon as you’ve skipped through all of the dialog.  I realize that the developers may have wanted to give the world more character, and it has it in spades, but it frankly got a little ridiculous.  And while I’m being critical, I do have a bit of an issue with the level of difficulty in the game.  Yes it ramps nicely and there are some tricky puzzles, but I often felt myself playing it on auto-pilot.  I’m not sure if that’s because of the difficulty or because of the style of game, but I did have to stop and think a few times.  The problem was I had to stop and think less than I wanted to.  The puzzles that are pictures of things or Mario sprites are nice to look at and quick to blow through, while the challenge puzzles provide more of that puzzling fun.  It just didn’t provide enough I found.  There simply weren’t enough ways to trick me so that I had to think outside the box or do more than apply brute-force solving methods.  Perhaps a few more added elements would have helped, but it felt far too reminiscent of Portal 2 to me: a beautiful puzzle game that actually wasn’t that puzzling.

Of course there is a way around my main complaint: just make your own levels or download those of others.  It’s already quite easy to find hundreds of custom levels, everything from MegaMan sprites to vortexes of blox.  The puzzle building tools are as easy as drawing it with your stylus, and they work fantastically well.  I was expecting a LittleBigPlanet type of online sharing a voting, and some StreetPass/SpotPass features to share my levels with others and download some while I slept, but alas those features are sadly missing.  You can save your completed puzzle (after you prove it can be solved) to an SD card, which you can then put in your computer to upload wherever you choose.  Hardly an elegant solution, but it works well enough not to be a significant barrier to those who choose to create. So what we have here is a fantastic and unique puzzle game with a great colourful 3D world, whose only majour complaint can be pretty much rectified with a bit of legwork.  Frankly I’m not sure why you aren’t playing it right now.


Want to know what our review scores mean? Read about it here.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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